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Khalifa Uthman bin Affan - The Caliphate of Uthman

Choice of Abdul Rahman b Auf

Commissioned to make the selection Abdul Rahman b Auf began his task by interviewing each member of the Committee separately. Interviewing Ali he asked him, "Suppose I do not choose you; in that case whom would you like me to choose? " Ali said, "In that case you may choose Uthman". Uthman was interviewed next, and he was asked the question, "If you are not selected who should be the next choice?" Uthman said, "In that case the obvious choice would be Ali". When Zubair b Awamm was put the same question he said, "Ali or Uthman. When Saad b Abi Waqas waS interviewed he said that he would like Abdul Rahman b Auf to be the Caliph. Abdul Rahman said that as he had withdrawn from the contest his choice should be from among the other four members. Saad b Abl Waqas said that in that case, Uthman would be his choice. Analyzing these answers, Abdul Rahman b Auf came to the conclusion that Uthman commanded the majority of votes among the members of the selection committee.

Thereafter Abdul Rahman b Auf proceeded to consult the other leaders of public opinion in Madina. Some Bedouiin chiefs had arrived in Madina to participate in the funeral ceremonies of Umar. Abdul Rahman b Auf consulted these men as well. Obviously the choice lay between Ali and Uthman. Out of these Ali was still young being less than fifty, while Uthman was old being nearly seventy. According to the Arab traditions of respect for old age the common men expressed themselves in favor of Uthman, the older among the two candidates.

Umar had been a hard task master. He was not only harsh with the people, he was harsh even with himself and his family members. The people now wanted a change, and they favored Uthman who was well known for his mildness, kindness and generosity. The people could not forget that Uthman was a rich man, and he had used a greater part of his wealth for public welfare. He had purchased the Be'er Rauma well from the Jews for the purpose of supplying water to the Muslims. He had financed the project for the extension of the Prophet's mosque. He had financed a greater part of the expedition to Tabuk. In the time of famine he had donated large stocks of grain for public distribution. He used to liberate a slave every month.

After meeting the public, Abdul Rahman b Auf arrived at the conclusion that an overwhelming majority of the people favored the election of Uthman. Thereafter Abdul Rahman had another round of meeting with Ali and Uthman. Addressing Ali he asked, "If you are elected as the Caliph do you undertake to follow the Quran and the Sunnah, and the traditions set by your predecessors?" Ali said that he would follow the Quran and the Sunnah, but in the matter of the traditions of his predecessors he would follow them as far as possible. and would exercise his own judgment in each case. When the same question was put to Uthman, he gave an unconditional undertaking. That made Abdul Rahman b Auf give his verdict in favor of Uthman.

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